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O, Canada
11:31 A.M., TUESDAY, MAY 31, 2011
CHRIS YANDLE (EMAIL)
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS: Twitter: @BaylorMBB, @BaylorAthletics | Facebook: Baylor Athletics

I officially submitted my paperwork to renew my U.S. Passport, which expired earlier this year. Why am I renewing my Passport? Here's why: for the first time since 2007, Baylor will be participating in a foreign tour this summer in Toronto. Baylor's trip is scheduled for August 11-16, but tour particulars (opponents, etc.) have not yet been finalized.

It'll be a homecoming of sorts for sophomore G Brady Heslip, who hails from nearby Burlington, Ontario (approximately 35 miles SW of Toronto). It caps off a busy summer for Baylor basketball: sophomores A.J. Walton and Cory Jefferson (and Director of Operations Tim Maloney) are on the final leg of their two-week tour of Macedonia and Kosovo with Athletes In Action.

Baylor's last foreign trip came in 2007 when the Bears played in Cancun, Mexico, cruising to a pair of victories. Once tour information is finalized, I will pass it along.

For constant updates on all things Baylor basketball, follow the official Twitter feed of Baylor Basketball (@BaylorMBB) 


Year of the Breakout Bears?
12:08 P.M., THURSDAY, MAY 12, 2011
CHRIS YANDLE (EMAIL)
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS: Twitter: @BaylorMBB, @BaylorAthletics | Facebook: Baylor Athletics

With each passing day, excitement for the 2011-12 season continues to grow. On Tuesday, I provided a rundown of Baylor's early Preseason Top 25 rankings. It's no secret that - talent-wise - Baylor will have one of the most stacked rosters in the nation. Last night, in a reply, I tweeted that this Baylor team is the most talented of the Scott Drew era. A few minutes later, @jagreen12 tweeted this: "Pretty sure this will be the most talented Baylor team of ANY era." Based on preseason hype, expectations and the incoming class' accolades, he could be right.

For the most part, Baylor is on the cusp of everyone's top 15 for 2011-12. Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn has Baylor No. 18 in his post-draft deadline Power Rankings - second to only Kansas (No. 10) among Big 12 teams. ESPN's Pat Forde tabbed Perry Jones III as a lock for preseason All-America (along with Jared Sullinger, Terrence Jones and Harrison Barnes) and later mentioned Baylor as one of two teams (Missouri) to challenge Kansas for the Big 12 title.

With PJ3 gracing the Men's Basketball front page on ESPN.com, analyst Fran Fraschilla lists Baylor as one of his six "breakout teams" for 2011-12 (Insider Subscription required): Here's what  Fran had to say about the Bears:

"While the Bears didn't meet the high expectations there were placed on them last season, consider this a reset year for them. While traditional Big 12 powers Texas and Kansas look to be in rebuilding mode, Scott Drew's team is deep at every position. In fact, he'll boast two potential lottery picks in the 2012 NBA Draft, 6-11 sophomore Perry Jones III and 6-9 freshman Quincy Miller.

"Coupled with Jones III and Miller, seniors Quincy Acy, Anthony Jones and J'mison Morgan give Drew as much depth up front as North Carolina next season. Acy is an energizer who is the most logical leader for this young team.

"Whilte the Bears' backcourt is in flux, there are more answers there than last season. Junior PG A.J. Walton is the incumbent but will be pushed by junior college All-American Pierre Jackson. Cal transfer Gary Franklin Jr. is a combo guard, while Boston College transfer Brady Heslip - nephew of Toronto Raptors coach Jay Triano - is a deadeye shooter. Miller's high school teammate, Deuce Bello, is a human highlight film who will factor into this mix, as well."

One item of note from ESPN's Joe Lunardi...On Wednesday, he unveiled his latest 2012 Bracketology; the Bears are a No. 6 seed in the West Regional (Phoenix) against No. 11 Northwestern in Portland. Baylor/NU is paired with No. 3 Gonzaga/No. 14 New Mexico State. No. 6 - as well as the current preseason rankings - are a good start for the Bears heading into 2011-12.

For constant updates on all things Baylor basketball, follow the official Twitter feed of Baylor Basketball (@BaylorMBB) 


A Consensus Early Preseason Top 16 Pick
11:38 A.M., TUESDAY, MAY 10, 2011
CHRIS YANDLE (EMAIL)
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS: Twitter: @BaylorMBB, @BaylorAthletics | Facebook: Baylor Athletics

Late last month, Baylor began garnering tons of attention with the return of Perry Jones III and the addition of NJCAA Division I Player of the Year Pierre Jackson. With the passing of the NBA Draft's withdrawl deadline, national media outlets continue to rank Baylor as a (really) early preseason Top 16 team.

Here's how Baylor looks in the early 2011-12 Preseason Top 25 polls:

No. 11 - Jeff Goodman, FOXSports.com
Chemistry - and leadership - will be the key since there will be no shortage of talent on this roster.

No. 12 - Jon Rothstein, MSG.com/CBS College Sports
Perry Jones III's decision to return to school makes him a National Player of the Year candidate - he's that good. The versatile forward's return gives Scott Drew one of the nation's most talented frontcourts with PJ3, Quincy Acy, Anthony Jones and incoming freshman Quincy Miller...If Pierre Jackson can live up to his hype, the Bears just might be the favorites to win the Big 12.

No. 14 - Mike Miller, NBCSports.com
Perry Jones III's return to Waco may have been the biggest individual surprise of the offseason. The immensely talented post player started slow last season, but seemed to finally be comfortable by year's end. And the additions of Quincy Miller and Deuce Bello give the Bears two explosive talents. Now, can they play defense?

No. 14 - Gary Parrish, CBSSports.com

No. 14 - Jason King, Yahoo! Sports
Jason only did a post-deadline Top 10, but Baylor was the fourth team mentioned in his "five more teams to watch."

No. 16 - Andy Katz, ESPN.com
The Bears had the surprise news of the spring when Perry Jones III decided to accept his five-game penalty to begin next season...and return to Baylor. Jones III would have been a lottery pick; he'll return alongside Quincy Acy to anchor a team that will have plenty of young pop with incoming freshmen Quincy Miller and Deuce Blelo on board.

Yahoo's Jason King also listed Perry Jones III and Quincy Miller as No. 3 and No. 6, respectivley, on his list of top frontcourt players (and with no sign of Quincy Acy, to which Jason agreed that Acy belonged after I tweeted him).

The excitement for the 2011-12 season continues to grow...and it's only May.

For constant updates on all things Baylor basketball, follow the official Twitter feed of Baylor Basketball (@BaylorMBB) 


Jackson Adds Yet Another Top Honor
11:17 A.M., TUESDAY, MAY 3, 2011
CHRIS YANDLE (EMAIL)
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS: Twitter: @BaylorMBB, @BaylorAthletics | Facebook: Baylor Athletics

Pierre Jackson (Drew Nash/Idaho Falls Times-News/MagicValley.com)

Last week, the final Class of 2011 rankings were unveiled by the four major sites, giving Baylor a consensus top-20 signing class. Those rankings include Quincy Miller and Deuce Bello only. The third member of Baylor's 2011 class added yet another big-time honor Monday as College of Southern Idaho All-American PG Pierre Jackson was ranked the No. 1 junior college player in the nation by JucoRecruiting.com.

PJac has already been tabbed as the top JUCO transfer heading to Division I by JucoRecruiting.com. Jackson guided the College of Southern Idaho to a national championship, while garnering first-team NJCAA Region 18 and Division I All-America honors. He was also named Scenic West Athletic Conference Player of the Year. Oh yeah...and NJCAA Division I Player of the Year.

For constant updates on all things Baylor basketball, follow the official Twitter feed of Baylor Basketball (@BaylorMBB). It's still me, just a different Twitter name to better brand my coverage of Baylor Basketball.


Trio Traveling to Macedonia with Athletes In Action
9:03 A.M., MONDAY, MAY 2, 2011
CHRIS YANDLE (EMAIL)
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS: Twitter: @BaylorMBB, @BaylorAthletics | Facebook: Baylor Athletics

For the second straight year, sophomores A.J. Walton and Cory Jefferson will be traveling overseas with Athletes In Action for one of the organization's European tours. Walton and Jefferson are among 10 Division I men's basketball players that are part of AIA's Macedonia and Kosovo Tour, which will take place later this month. Six of the 10 student-athletes hail from the Big 12; Baylor's Director of Operations Tim Maloney will serve as the team's head coach.

Baylor has a long-standing tradition of players and coaches participating overseas with Athletes In Action. Last year, Walton and Jefferson traveled to Katowise, Poland, with AIA. In 2009, Quincy Acy also competed with Athletes In Action in Poland. For Maloney, this will be his second head coaching stint with AIA; in 2007, he served as head coach for AIA's team that tour Germany (Tweety Carter was a member of that team that went undefeated in five games). As a student-athlete, Maloney also played for AIA against pro teams in South America in 1984.

This will be AIA's third tour of Macedonia with the first coming in 1995. That team was coached by Homer and Scott Drew.

2011 ATHLETES IN ACTION MACEDONIA/KOSOVO TOUR ROSTER
Austin Dufault, Colorado
Langston Hall, Mercer
Cory Jefferson, Baylor
Jordan Juenemann, Kansas
Jake Kitchell, Indiana State
William Mosley, Northwestern State
Will Spradling, Kansas State
A.J. Walton, Baylor
Scottie Wilbekin, Florida
Jeff Withey, Kansas
Coach: Tim Maloney, Baylor
 

For constant updates on all things Baylor basketball, follow the official Twitter feed of Baylor Basketball (@BaylorMBB). It's still me, just a different Twitter name to better brand my coverage of Baylor Basketball.

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